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Infantile Delay

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The All Boards Chairs (ABC) committee met on a rainy night to discuss regional issues. They learned from each other that six of the seven Boards of Education had agreed to the joint agreement on the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. Falls Village, the seventh Board, was unable to answer questions; their First Selectman, Pat Mechare, has illegally held up their response. The committee also initiated discussion of regionalization of the school systems. That discussion included the movement of students between schools and the possible closing of the smaller schools. The committee finished with a final review of the regional budget, and started the process for evaluating the Superintendent.

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Planning a High School

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A letter to the Region 1 Board of Education:

Earlier this month, the Region 1 Board of Education adopted the first pass at a long range plan. You set in place a review of the course offerings, staffing, and building utilization at Housatonic Valley Regional High School to be done by Principal Jose Martinez during the next school year. Actually, such a review was necessary from the start of the enrollment decline in 2006 when student projections showed the problem. But it took a new set of eyes to see the necessity.

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Snow Job

Kent Chairman Paul Cortese (l) with members Rob Ober and Gonzalo Garcia-Pedroso

Kent Chairman Paul Cortese (l) with members Rob Ober and Gonzalo Garcia-Pedroso

Thursday was a quiet snowy night with ice on the roads when the Kent Board of Education met. With Region 1 representative Jonathan Moore, the Board reviewed the budget for Region 1. Then they reviewed the Kent budget. The budget for Kent Center School will increase by 1.47% or $64,781. The total budget will increase by 2.45%; the Board approved it for presentation to the Board of Finance. They also approved the joint agreement with the other Boards of Education in Region 1 for the employment of the Superintendent of Schools. They learned of the retirement of four teachers in Kent Center School (KCS) including the language arts teacher. For that reason, they discussed the future of the language arts program at KCS.

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Done And Done And Done

Region 1 Board member John Sanders

Region 1 Board member John Sanders

Monday evening, the Region 1 Board of Education held their regular monthly meeting in addition to all those special meetings. They reviewed the budget one last time and will sit on it for one month. They approved the joint agreement for the employment of the Superintendent of Schools by all seven Boards in Region 1. They successfully listened to the needs of the local Boards. They also approved the start of a long range plan that came out of two Board retreats. And they approved the job description for the position of Assistant Superintendent after a lengthy definition process. This meeting proved to be the culmination of a lot of hard work.

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The Boy Friend

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Storm Clouds

Lara Mittaud, Chairman, Canaan Board of Education

Lara Mittaud, Chairman, Canaan Board of Education

Wednesday evening, the All Boards Chairs committee (ABC) and the Region 1 Board of Education met in joint session to discuss issues of regional governance and the current budget. The discussion on the joint agreements was direct and confrontational as the two representatives from Falls Village expressed their displeasure with the entire direction of the group. In the end the ABC committee recommended a joint agreement for employment of the Superintendent of Schools and sent it to the local Boards of Education for approval. The equal apportionment of the compensation for the Superintendent was included, but was delayed for one year because local budgets already reflect the current method. The discussion of the joint agreement on shared services was put off to a later date. Lara Mittaud, Chairman of Falls Village Board of Education, appeared to say that her town would take legal action on the matter.

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Comfortable

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The Region 1 Board of Education met again to discuss the budget for the 2015-2016 school year. The budget was reduced slightly by all administrators to bring the current total to $15,618,139. That corresponds to a 3.09% increase from last year. It also corresponds to $25,987 per student in the high school, likely to be the largest spending high school in the state. The Board seemed comfortable with this budget and seemed ready to adopt it at their next meeting. They also met in executive session concerning negotiations with the non-certified union in what promises to be a prolonged process.

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One Board Member’s View

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By Claude Rolo

I would like to share my personal perspective as board chair for the Salisbury Board of Education and thus a member of the All Boards Chairs (ABC) Committee as to why the Region One Board of Education (R1) and the ABC are working on evaluating our current governance policy, the 7000 Series and how each school district employs a superintendent.

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Review Process

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This week, the Region 1 Board of Education started the review of the full budget for Region 1. The process was lengthy and detailed. The total budget showed an increase of 4.90%, mostly driven by an unsustainable increase of 8.59% in pupil services. The budget for Housatonic Valley Regional High School showed an increase of 2.61%. However, with the drop in enrollment from 420 students to 394 at the high school, the actual increase per student is 9.3% without the additions in special education. Some of the Board were skeptical of the costs and wanted to look for opportunities to cut staff. The total budget for Region 1 is projected at $16,658,360 until the Board trims it.

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Extravagant

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Region 1 is losing its children by leaps and bounds. The enrollment at Housatonic Valley Regional High School is down to 394 students this year. Recent enrollment projections given by Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain indicate that the enrollment in Region 1 will steadily decline. And, in spite of the efforts of the Region 1 Board of Education, the cost per pupil is up to an astounding $26,333 in the current budget. To put that number in perspective, the state average cost per pupil last year was $15,146 according to state data. That puts Housatonic more than $4,000,000 over the average state budget. That is a solid measure of extravagance. Housatonic has become the most expensive public high school in the State of Connecticut.

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